MANCHESTER, England — Michael Bisping retained his UFC middleweight title early by taking a unanimous decision victory over Dan Henderson at UFC 204 at the Manchester Arena on Sunday, ending the retiring American’s career in defeat.
The fight started tentatively, with Henderson, a Temecula resident, wary of combinations from Bisping, and the Englishman concerned about the right hook with which Henderson had knocked him out at UFC 100.
With 30 seconds to go in the first round, however, the 46-year-old Henderson landed the shot for which he is known, almost finishing Bisping and creating prominent swelling under his left eye.
With Bisping controlling the second round, a groin strike not spotted by the referee, and led to an ailing Henderson hitting the right hook, dropping Bisping once more, although again he was able to recover.
The remaining rounds were less dramatic, although Bisping continued to land more strikes. That led to the judges awarding the hometown favorite the fight, despite the differences in overall damage.
“He just kicked my ass, man. He’s as tough as old boots,” said a relieved Bisping after the fight.
Henderson had announced his retirement prior to the fight, and confirmed it afterward.
“That was the last time anyone will see me fight live,” Henderson said. “I appreciate all the support throughout my career, worldwide. I gave my heart and soul to this sport.
“I came up a little short, but not bad for an old man.”
In the co-main event, Gegard Mousasi defeated Vitor Belfort in the middleweight division.
After an early flurry of punches by Belfort, he took a head kick in round two, and referee Marc Goddard stopped the bout quickly when the Brazilian fell to the ground and covered up under fire from punches.
“(Belfort) is a legend. Fighting him is an honour,” said Mousasi after the bout. He then challenged UFC legend Anderson Silva, stating that “it would be a good fight for me.”
Jimi Manuwa delivered three good punches to take his fight against interim light-heavyweight contender Ovince St. Preux.
After being out-w…